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What to Do With Unplanted Spring Bulbs

By Josienita Borlongan ; Updated September 21, 2017

Staying within the spring bulb’s planting period ensures prolific blooms will appear in the spring. Spring bulbs need a resting period in cold temperatures in order to put out new roots in preparation for growth. Planting spring bulbs too late may cause bulbs to decay, which can lead to fewer or no blooms in the spring. If you were unable to plant spring bulbs within the ideal time, there are things you can do so as not waste them.

Plant in Container

Plant the bulbs in a container if it is already too late to plant outdoors. Avoid using terracotta pots because they tend to crack when it is too cold; choose a wooden barrel instead. Make sure that the barrel has holes for proper drainage. Place some gravel at the bottom to prevent soil from washing out. Cover the soil with mulch after planting the spring bulbs to help protect them from the harsh winter weather. Put the container in a place where the bulbs will not freeze. Do not put them inside the house because the bulbs need to experience winter chilling. You may keep the container on an enclosed porch or in a garage when it gets too cold outside. Place the container outdoors when the weather gets a little warmer.

Store Unplanted Bulbs

Store unplanted spring bulbs by placing them in a dry cardboard box. Make sure that they do not touch each other. Place newspapers in between bulbs. Layer the top of the bulbs with newspaper when stacking. It is difficult to mimic a bulb's ideal climate, and they may end up rotting. You may store a box of spring bulbs in a refrigerator for the winter. Plant them as soon as the ground outside thaws. You may also try storing the box in a cool closet or garage, but you may have varied results when you plant them outside in the spring. Some may bloom while others may not.

Plant with More Soil

When in doubt, plant the bulbs anyway. Late planted bulbs often still grow and flower just fine. Look for mulched beds, which do not freeze as quickly. Plant the bulbs three times as deep as the bulb is high. You can accomplish this by adding more soil on top. You could probably have more success in planting late if you do not wait too long. If you were supposed to start planting the bulbs in October, you may still have a successful result even when you plant them in December. However, if you're looking at unplanted spring-flowering bulbs in March or April, you're probably not going to have any blooms at all.


About the Author


Josienita Borlongan is a full-time lead web systems engineer and a writer. She writes for Business.com, OnTarget.com and various other websites. She is a Microsoft-certified systems engineer and a Cisco-certified network associate. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in medical technology from Saint Louis University, Philippines.